Hosting The Airport Arts World

Our vision of being a world-class airport is pursued in many ways – through airport employees, the design and function of our facilities, air services, landscaping and through our works of art.

Dave Powell, deputy airport director for facility development, describes artwork on Concourse D for attendees during an art tour as part of the conference.

Dave Powell, deputy airport director for facility development, describes artwork on Concourse D for attendees during an art tour as part of the conference.

Last week RDU played host to the 11th Annual Arts in the Airport workshop sponsored by the American Association of Airport Executives. Nearly 40 airport art administrators from across the U.S. and Canada came to our community to discuss topics ranging from how to develop an art program to installation challenges to technology opportunities. It was a great conference and one that favorably showcased RDU and our region.

Creating an excellent customer experience has always been at the forefront of the development and operation of RDU. That’s why many years ago we began our art program in the form of musical performances during the holidays. That program has grown to a First Friday series offered year-round.

Cheryl Stewart, RDU's art consultant, points out a detail in Ellen Driscoll's Wingspun in the International Arrivals Corridor during the art tour.

Cheryl Stewart, RDU’s art consultant, points out a detail in Ellen Driscoll’s Wingspun in the International Arrivals Corridor during the art tour.

Early on we developed a Master Plan for Art to serve as a guide on how we could elevate the customer’s experience by enhancing the terminal environment with art.  We chose to have fewer, impactful  pieces in our collection rather than install many small works of art.  And, I am proud to say, that our art program rivals that of many other airports.

We’ve had a lot of help structuring our art program.  First we employed art consultants who were experienced in public art in transportation environments.  And the support grew throughout the last decade to a collaborative process involving staff, artists, consultants, advisory boards, architects, engineers, and contractors.

Our program carries the theme of handmade and mind made illustrated in works representing the geographical regions of our state to ones that reflect the Research Triangle’s reputation in research and life sciences.

Attendees listen to Greta Blalock, of the Port of Portland, during a session with representatives from Philadelphia and Toronto airports.

Attendees listen to Greta Blalock, of the Port of Portland, during a session with representatives from Philadelphia and Toronto airports.

Art, in a busy transportation environment, also serves as a pleasant or thought-provoking experience for the traveler.  Most of our art installations can be found in Terminal 2, the pedestrian tunnel or the General Aviation Terminal.  But when we reopen Terminal 1 in March of 2014, there will be three new pieces added to our permanent collection.  You can view our art brochures here, see our permanent collection online or preview the works coming to Terminal 1.

It was a great opportunity to share the passion we have for elevating the customer’s experience through art with our peers from across the nation.  But what you think is most important. So the next time you travel through RDU, please take a look around at the art and let us know your thoughts.

About Teresa Damiano

Teresa Damiano is the Vice President of Communications and Community Affairs for the Raleigh-Durham Airport Authority. She directs air service development, guest services, communications and customer service. And, she's not afraid to bribe an airline with her famous homemade lasagna.
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